Age Diversity in Groups
From: Lynn Nadeau (
Date: Fri, 5 May 2000 13:09:39 -0600 (MDT)
Hi from Lynn at RoseWind,

In reference to groups with few young children, Jasmine Gold writes, "I'm 
interested in hearing whether other groups have or have had this problem? 
What was done or is being done to overcome it? "

The different age mixes in different groups are only a "problem" if 
someone is looking for a situation with more or fewer children than a 
given group has. 

Over time, groups seem to tend to get "younger." At the outset, a group 
benefits from people with either a lot of time or a lot of money--both of 
which are more common among people with no, or grown, children, than 
among those with young children (who consume both time and money!). Once 
established, a younger family may be in a better position to buy in to a 
going concern, or a resale unit, than the thousands of hours of meetings 
and whatever degree of uncertainty, in new groups. 

At RoseWind, the cycle went like this:
==4 of the 5 founding families, who did most of the work for the first 
years, had young children THEN. The children got to have parents who went 
to lots of meetings, and the parents got to spend yet more time, doing 
childcare swaps to enable them to do the meetings. The project is now 
fully sold, with 24 member families, a common house well under way, and 
gardens and orchards getting going. The 4-6 year olds who were the 
original kids are leaving for college or boarding school. They are "outta 
==Most of the "middle" families, who joined next, are retired, or nearing 
retirement, without young children, although some have grandchildren 
who've visited enough times to be known to us.
==Our last four lots all went to people with young children. Of the four 
families, there are 3 two year olds, a 5 year old, and a 7 year old. Plus 
a fellow who joined early-- one of our "young" members at 40--- got a 
lady partner and they've just had a baby. 

The other factor is the surrounding community. Here in Port Townsend, the 
entire town of 8000 has much of a cohousing feel (with a "common house" 
function served by the local food coop, credit union, farmers market, 
library, etc. )  with abundant wonderful things for kids to do. It's 
small enough and safe enough that kids can walk and bicycle around, from 
age 10 or so they can get around on the three bus lines. Cohousing would 
be a kid's home base here, but they would certainly get the majority of 
their social and educational life ----no matter how many kids lived at 
RoseWind--- out in the surrounding neighborhoods and community. So the 
other question for a family looking for a social community for their 
kid(s) is, To what degree does the cohousing community need to be "it"? 

Kids need grown ups in their lives too, and parents of young children 
need adult support, so I think it's going to work out really well here to 
have a handful of young children and lots of people with time and energy 
to help out the kids and their parents. 

So, I'm a bit less quick to define it as a problem, not to have scads of 
kids on site . Although at the sites with LOTS of kids (Winslow, 
Sharingwood, come to mind) there is definitely a sort of kid-culture that 
might be important to some families. 

Lynn Nadeau, RoseWind Cohousing
Common House stucco is finished, with a few interesting bas-relief 
decorations, and we are progressing towards interior finishing! 
Next struggle is to get rid of the objections to putting the postal mail 
indoors at the CH. 

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